Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Erie Canal: Canoeing America’s Great Waterway

Erie Canal: Canoeing America’s Great Waterway

Peter Lourie
For ages 7 and up
Boyds Mill Press, 1999   ISBN: 978-1563977640

On October 26th 1825 the Erie Canal was opened. This man-made waterway connected the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean and made it possible to ship goods to and from the Great lakes region with much greater ease than had ever been possible before. The author of this excellent book decided that he would travel on the canal in a canoe, going at much the same pace as the early "canallers" did. These wooden barges were pulled by horses and mules and they carried both freight and passengers.

As he makes his journey the author tells us about the history of the canal; how it was built, what life for the workers was like, what it was like to work on a canaller, and what it was like to live on the banks of the canal. The author also tells his readers many stories, both true and half true, about the canal and the people who lived on and around it.

The author?s journey makes it possible for us to see the Erie Canal past and present. There are lots of colour and black and white photos and illustrations throughout the book. An excellent map in the beginning of this narrative shows the canal and all the major towns and cities that can be found along it.

This is a story which not only helps us understand the history of an extraordinary man-made wonder, but which also takes us on a very personal journey with the author as he makes his way in his canoe along the canal and through the locks.